The Rising Tide of Popular Culture

Yesterday came news via The Hollywood Reporter that the Russo brothers – responsible for the last three Captain America movies – are opening a studio in China to help produce movies by Chinese filmmakers. This is due to the increase in China’s film market, where it’s quickly becoming larger than that of the United States.

This is on the heels of news that Chinese film The Mermaid will be released in the United States. It’s possible that soon we’ll be living in an age where we receive a great deal of our popular culture from China. Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time that this has happened in the US.

Those of us that grew up in the 90’s have to remember that pretty much everything we were obsessed with came from Japan. The SEGA Genesis was released early in the decade, and then the N64 and PlayStation followed closely behind. There was Pokemon in all forms, Digimon, and several popular anime’s like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z. Basically, if it came from Japan, we wanted to consume it. This lasted roughly the entirety of the 90’s and began to taper off in the early 2000’s. There are those who still love Japanese culture, but it isn’t as pervasive in our popular culture as it once was.

During the early 2000’s to about now, the United States has been the one delivering popular culture. Dumb action movies were huge hits overseas and brought in the big bucks. Hell, even Twilight came from the US. There were exceptions like Harry Potter obviously.

Over the past five years though, there’s been a slow shift. Since China began loosening its censorship restrictions, everyone has begun looking to China as the new market. Films like Transformers 4 and Iron Man 3 have included several Chinese specific things just to attract audiences. They don’t always work, but at least they’re giving it a shot.

Now we’re getting movies that are big hits in China over here and producers are looking to invest in the output of Chinese films. So a lot of money is about to flow into the Chinese market, through which we could see a huge boom of interesting films and products.

So it’s hard not to wonder how the idea of popular culture will change in the next five to ten years. Ultimately this is nothing but speculation, but we could be on precipice of a large change.




NaNoWriMo Update Číslo Dva: Crossing 20,000 Words

It’s happened again! GREAT SCOTT! I’ve crossed yet another milestone. I don’t know how exactly, but I did. It’s crazy because I think I did it before. Roughly four years ago I attempting NaNoWriMo and got to roughly 32-33 pages before I didn’t know where to go with my story. So I stopped.

I’ve now officially surpassed that record. I’m currently sitting on 37 pages and a little over 20,000 words. I’m actually feeling better than ever about writing. If this keeps up I should be able to hit 50,000 words no problem. I’m nearly half way there as it is.

One important factor that I didn’t mention last time that’s been critical in my success thus far is outlining. I know some people love to write by the seat of their pants and I used to be in that camp. Outlining took too long for me and sometimes I’d get stuck and not want to continue. The great thing is though, if I get stuck in the outline I won’t get stuck while actually writing. I’ll have time to iron out my pacing and creative issues before putting “pen to paper” as it were.

Some people dislike outlines because they feel beholden to them. I simply use mine as a guideline. My outlines are like are a bullet point list that list the most basic needs of the scene. Other than that I am free to explore it however I like. In fact there are several times where I’ve deviated or added scenes in between. But it’s nice to know that when I get stuck I have a tool that will put me back on track.

Well, until next time!

National Novel Writing Month

A quick post for those curious (or those who are doing it as well) I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month. 

For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is a marathon of sorts, to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s hard, and while I’m tried for the past three years I’ve never been successful at it. I hope this year will be the year I finish it. SO JOIN ME ON THE PATH TO SUCCESS!

If you’d like to follow my progress, or just join the fun, here’s my profile. I’d be happy to follow you back.

Saving Money With My Backlog

Since I got back from PAX I’ve been trying to save up money. Whether it be for a car, or to attend PAX Prime this August. To do that, I need to not spend as much money as possible. That means only buying video games I REALLY want, making lunch from home, etc.

It also means going through my backlog and finishing everything I’ve got. That way, I’ll spend my time playing those games and reading those books instead of going out and buying new things. At least that’s the thought so far. Hopefully it continues to hold up.

So far my backlog has been moving very slowly. Most of the games I’ve been playing through were left alone for a reason. One of those games is RAGE. Anyone remember it? It was made by id in 2011 and was supposed to be all about vehicles and stuff like that. Unfortunately the game feels like it was made back in 2005 right after Half-Life 2 came out. Sure it looks great, but that’s about all it has going for it. It’s slow and terribly paced so far. The engine is terribly optimized as well. Everything has this weird texture blurriness when I immediately look at it, then it renders out the higher texture. It’s ugly and makes my framerate chug (as a result of that, I’ve dropped down the graphics and that seems to have fixed the problem for now).

My hope is that the rest of my backlog will be easier than this. That said, I tried out The Binding of Isaac last night and damn is it tough! Really rewarding, but exceptionally difficult. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less from the guys who made Super Meat Boy.

As for reading, I’ve gotten back into reading the Dark Tower series. Last year I’d read through the first four books, but hit a snag on book five. I’m determined to get through the rest of it. Thankfully I wasn’t too far into book 5 already so I haven’t had much to catch up on. That said, the book is a little over 900 pages long… And the books only get longer. So that’ll be fun. But I’ve heard they’re worth it so I’m not worried.

What about you guys? Are you up to anything fun?

A Movie I’m Very Excited For: “Only God Forgives”

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (the Director of Drive), Only God Forgives reteams Refn with Ryan Gosling. Personally, I was a huge fan of Drive. Sure, the ending is a little weak, but everything before that is pure genius. If this trailer is anything to go by, I’d say there’s reason enough to be excited for this one.

LucasArts Is Gone, But It’s Not As Bad As It Seems

LucasArts is gone. They were closed yesterday by Disney and all 150 employees were laid off. My heart goes out to them of course. Nothing sucks worse than losing your job, I hope they all land at other studios as fast as possible.

That said, this was a long time coming. Everyone loves to look back at LucasArts as this amazing company who gave us fantastic adventure games and some awesome Star Wars games. The problem is that part of LucasArts faded away years ago. The LucasArts we’ve had for the past ten years or so resembles nothing of what it was in its heyday. In the past several years, the best Star Wars games games were all developed by other companies. KOTOR was developed by BioWare, Jedi Knight 2 was made by Raven Software, Battlefront by Pandemic, and Rogue Squadron 3 by Factor 5.

There are a few exceptions though. Games like Republic Commando were fantastic and very well received. Alas, they never capitalized on what the people wanted, electing to develop games like The Force Unleashed (1 & 2).

With the closure of LucasArts, Disney has said it’s going to move into more licensing for Star Wars games. This excites me because it opens the door for other developers to take a crack at Star Wars. If people like BioWare could make an amazing Star Wars RPG, what could we get from a company like Eidos or another great developer. Sure, it go the other way and we could wind up with something like Yoda Stories. But as of late all the great Star Wars games (such as the LEGO titles) have all come from other companies.

What about you guys? Who would you love to see make a Star Wars game? How do you feel about the closure of LucasArts?


Aaaaand we’re back. With Sunday being Easter and Monday April Fool’s Day I thought it best to avoid the internet for a few days (aside from playing some games of course). Anyways it’s time to get back to the PAX East recap. Not much happened on day 3, so I’m going to do my best to wrap up the entire trip in this one post. Here goes nothing!

Day Two was both a great and tough day. Tough only because I didn’t eat except once the entire day. That’s what happens when you’re too focused on what’s going on around you and not on the growling in your stomach. It was only before the IGN party that I figured I should eat. After all, I was going to be drinking a lot.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. The beginning of the day started off with some more StarCraft 2 and Street Fighter X Tekken play. Again, I never won, but it was still really fun.

The next thing I did was try to find the Transistor booth, which unfortunately was still packed as hell. Alas, I was never able to play the game. Fortunately right next to it was the DiveKick booth.

For those unfamiliar with DiveKick, it started out a big ol’ joke. It was made to make fun of the fight game community, using only characters who can perform dive kicks. Oh and it only uses two buttons. One for dive, and the other for kick. From there it grew in popularity and was picked up by Iron Galaxy Studios. They had a booth at the show floor and were showing off the game. It runs on a first to five round counter, with each rounds being only twenty seconds wrong. It’s super stressful and really fun at the same time. It’s something that would be perfect for parties and for people who have no idea how to play fighting games (or just love to button mash).

At the booth they had a section set up where you could play a FGC pro and win a poster. The pro this time around was CEO Jebailey, who runs a really cool fighting game tournament. As I waited in line, I watched Jebailey destroy people 5-0. He slayed five people “perfectly” before I got up to him. I’d never played before and I was ready to lose. And if you lose, you get a “FRAUD” stamp on your hand. That was the one thing I didn’t want to happen.

Thankfully it didn’t. In fact, I won. Yes. I beat the “pro” and got myself a poster ($5 value). BOOYA. Of course the next couple for pros I faced (NerdJosh and Mike “Maximum Human” Ross) destroyed me. So either I got lucky or Jebailey is a scrub.

NerdJosh is on the left, and Keats (the developer of the game) is on the right.

Either way I did happen to get some cool footage of Jebailey playing Mike Ross in a best of 3 match. These guys are good friends who love to poke fun at each other so it wound up being a really fun match.

Despite my losses I was pretty addicted to the game. So much so that I spent the rest of the day playing the game. So much fun. Oh and SPOILERS! I did the same thing on Sunday.

Once 4:45 PM rolled around I realized that the IGN party started soon. I booked it down the Congress Street, running so that I could keep warm in the 30 degree weather. Long story short, I found some dinner and then got into the party with Britt and Jayson.

And BOY WAS IT PACKED. Like, so packed that if there was a fire we’d all be dead. Thankfully after about an hour it thinned out and you could move pretty easily from one end to the other.

The party was amazing. Greg, Mitch, Daemon, and Casey from IGN were all there. The Capy and Double Fine guys were there as well. I also met up with the Shovel Knight team who were really cool and fun to drink/talk with. All good drinks were had along with a great time. After hanging out for about five and a half hours my feet were on fire. It was time to go. As I learned the next day, both Greg and Daemon felt the same.

And that was Saturday! If you guys are curious about Sunday, all you need to know is that I played more DiveKick. I also went to the IGN Game Scoop panel, which you can check out on the site.


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